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Client diagnosed as allergic to gold


#1

Ganoksinners,

I have a client that had been diagnosed as “allergic to gold”. She
also dislikes white metals. Bummer.

Does anyone have ANY solutions on materials that have a yellow
color, but do not result in surface oxidation? I can electroplate;
how long will a nickel/24K gold plate last before bronze or brass
will oxidize through them?

Thanks much,
Kennon Young
VT Gem Lab


#2

Is she REALLY allergic to GOLD or is she having problems with the
alloying metals??? Gold is VERY VERY seldom found to be the
problem but the alloying metals are the true problem. Sooooo, either
pure gold pieces or if she is willing, to go thru alloying metal
allergy tests and find what alloying metals can be used in “hardening
up” the gold then make her a/the custom alloy. Nickel sensitivity is
WAY MORE common than pure gold sensitives so I would stay away from
the nickel. I do not have alloy sensitivities but my wedding ring is
about 23 K and I LOVE it. “Comfort fit” band is wonderful too!!!

John Dach


#3

Kennon,

I’d suggest she find a new allergist. As far as I can tell over the
years (40+), no human has been proved to be allergic to gold or any
other Noble metal. Ingredients in the alloys, perhaps, but not gold.

Wayne Emery
The Gemcutter
www.thelittlecameras.com


#4

Maybe the alloys in the gold, but not the gold itself. My 2 cents.


#5
I have a client that had been diagnosed as "allergic to gold". She
also dislikes white metals. Bummer. Does anyone have ANY solutions
on materials that have a yellow color 

First, be sure she is actually allergic to gold itself. That’s quite
rare. Usually, the allergy is to one or another of the alloying
metals, especially copper, or zinc deoxidizers, etc. Have her ask the
doctor whether pure gold or very high karat (22K) would cause a
problem.

If she is actually allergic to gold, then I’d try platinum as a
liner. Rings made of platinum, but with a recess on the outer surface
that could be inlaid with gold. If made so the gold surface is most
of the outer surface, but recessed slightly below the edges, then
skin contact would be minimized. One could even cover the gold with a
thin layer of something like clear enamel, or clear “ceramit” (fake
enamel) or the like. Inlaying gold into platinum is easy. Just melt
it on and file away the excess.

You could also enamel directly on silver jewelry for whatever color
you wish in the enamel, if she can tolerate contact with silver.
Enamel on platinum is also possible, but requires enamel that matches
the thermal expansion rates of platinum.

Or, how about Titanium or Niobium. They may start out grey, but with
anodizing, you’ve got a vibrant array of color available that can be
surprisingly durable.

Peter Rowe


#6

allergic to white gold - ok very possible due to the nickel in it,
but 24 karat gold hard to believe!Most never have access to a high
karat gold piece- even 22karat (having only silver in the alloy)
might work. None the less, niobium may be an answer. Any alloy is a
potential problem -the copper in the 18-22 kt yellow could be the
culprit (Yes - still doubting anyone is allergic -truly- to 24 karat
yellow!) but more probably the nickel in white gold. You can heavily
plate any fine silver piece too.

Again you would have to use 24 karat gold plating solutions, and
maybe a rhodium layer over that to add some hardness ( usually
referred to as vermeil, or gold d’ore with a rhodium plate).
Electrophoresis over fine silver is another option but it will
appear yellow- not the rich colour of high karat gold.

A piece not suitable for “hard” daily wear ( meaning if the client
does anything at all physical, or the piece in contact with rubbing,
knocking, or otherwise repeated abrading) could be fabricated with
instruction and warning given the client beforehand. Being the
skeptic i tend to be, i would take a piece of 24 karat wire or sizing
stock make a very simple ring or bangle and ask the person to wear it
for a few days and report to you any reaction (signing a receipt and
putting a deposit on it refundable when it is returned of course!)…i
may go as far as to say it is an hypoallergenic metal (which 24
karat is widely known to be!!!).

Chances are likely that the person will not react whatsoever to it,
then you could proceed in any design at all you mutually agree on.

I however, have very little patience with clients that walk in and
state they have a vast array of allergies to foods, metals, and
other things that sound over the top. For instance recently i had a
client walk in and announce she was “very allergic to green golds
but not white, pink or yellow” and that she was “severely allergic to
copper and because of her allergies was “stuck” with wearing sterling
silver”… after privately rolling my eyes - knowing copper was in
all of them and nickel in white and green gold, and yes, she just may
be a flake…I allowed her to try a bangle of roll printed high karat
gold for 7 days and then report back to me any il effects and we
could work from there. Guess what - no allergies… this was not an
isolated incidence either… So don’t try too hard to accommodate
someone you suspect to be a bit affected…your instincts as a
salesman and knowledge of metal alloys are usually truer than the
customers claims. any of the non-reactive metals can be dyed,
anodized or fine silver plated - but thickly - with a high karat
yellow gold overlay and cause no reactions with skin… rer


#7

It is almost always one of the alloying elements and not the gold
itself as you suggest. Even though it is extremely rare there are a
very small number of individuals who are actually alergic to pure
gold. I have seen photos of the skin tests but, have never
encountered such a person myself.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#8

She is probably allergic to nickel. Many allergists just call it a
gold allergy and the reason is because sometimes nickel is used in
the gold alloy. It is easier for the Dr to tell the patient they are
allergic to all gold than qualify it, have the jeweler insist there
isn’t any nickel in the gold, Have there be nickel in it due to a
different refiner or what have you, and have the patient break out.
Doesn’t always happen but when it does it can be nasty. Really
nasty. My mother is allergic to nickel and had just that reaction.
Engagement ring was fine. Wedding ring caused really nasty
blistering. Different refiners / manufacturers of the alloys. I am
not sure what her eventual solution was. I do know there are certain
refiners that will garuantee no nickel in the alloy. I am just not
sure which ones they are.

Good luck

PS. Following that line of thinking any plate with nickel in it
would be bad.


#9

Hello Birgit,

My daughter has to wear as pure of gold as possible, or not wear
jewelry at all. She was diagnosed as having a NICKEL allergy, so you
might reconsider NOT using nickel containing metals at all. One
thing that she may be able to wear would be stainless steel? I am
certain it can be plated, and possibly even with yellow toned silver?
I am not a metallurgist, so I have no idea on how it is alloyed,
others here I am sure could give you that just thought I
would share my thoughts on it.

Nickel allergies are VERY common, having been a nurse for 22 yrs, I
saw a lot of kids that would react even to the back side of the
rivets in their jeans.

I am not sure if most alloyed gold contains any nickel at all, but I
DO know that Gold is one of the elements in the world that is NOT
maintained in the body. Trace elements can be found, yes, but there
is no need for it, so I imagine a person COULD essentially develop an
allergy to it. Or at least a sensitivity. I am wondering I she should
not also be tested for all heavy metals, because there may be more
she is reacting to.

Anyway, I digress. Maybe you could look in to plating stainless
steel? Just a thought.

Teresa


#10
One thing that she may be able to wear would be stainless steel? 

Not a good idea with a nickel allergy, most common stainless alloys
contain significant amounts of nickel. Some will not release enough
nickel for most folks to have a problem but those who are sensitized
can have a reaction to even small amounts.

Nickel allergies are VERY common, having been a nurse for 22 yrs,
I saw a lot of kids that would react even to the back side of the
rivets in their jeans. 

It is estimated that 5% of the population is sensitized to nickel.

I am not sure if most alloyed gold contains any nickel at all, but
I DO know that Gold is one of the elements in the world that is NOT
maintained in the body. Trace elements can be found, yes, but
there is no need for it, so I imagine a person COULD essentially
develop an allergy to it. Or at least a sensitivity. I am wondering
I she should not also be tested for all heavy metals, because there
may be more she is reacting to. 

It is very unlikely that you will find any nickel in standard modern
yellow, red or green golds but most white golds contain nickel. The
exception in white gold is palladium white gold most formulations
contain no nickel.

As for sensitization it is even possible for platinum or gold but
very very rare.

James Binnion
James Binnion Metal Arts


#11

I’m with Wayne, it ain’t happenin’. Even the nickel "allergy"
usually turns out to be it turning whatever body part it touches
green as a reaction to chemicals in the skin but not really an
allergy.


#12

Gold allergy is relatively rare, but does exist. I pulled references
for those who wish to see a few medical journal articles documenting
gold allergy, as well as giving the google search terms to find the
links at the end of the post in case the links don’t carry over.

People who are sensitive to nickel and cobalt have a higher chance of
being sensitive to gold as well, but some are sensitive to gold only.
Am J Contact Dermat. 2001 Mar;12(1):3

Doctors discovered gold allergy is more often found in rheumatoid
arthritis patients and patients with eczema on their fingers and
neck. Gold salts are used as a treatment for RA, and starting doses
have to be lowered for patients with gold allergy. Contact
Dermatitis. 1996 May;34(5):345-8.

Gold allergy to dental gold restorations has been documented. One
study is: J Am Acad Dermatol. 1994 Feb;30(2 Pt 1):205-9.

and this is a case study of one individual: Oral Surg Oral Med Oral
Pathol. 1984 Feb;57(2):158-60

You can google gold allergy dental gold NIH and the first three cited
above will be first on the page.

Carol
Carol J. Bova


#13
As for sensitization it is even possible for platinum or gold but
very very rare. 

Which brings to mind the story of the princess and the pea. A very
fine and beautiful princess was so delicate that she would bruise if
there was a dried pea under her featherbed. Even under ten
featherbeds the pea was an irritant and proof of her aristocracy.

Allergy to gold or platinum are exceedingly rare. While such
conditions are reported to exist, when I meet someone who claims such
an exquisite affliction I always take it with a grain of salt. Not
that I would call the customer a liar or anything like that. Not good
salesmanship. There is a type of vanity that enjoys being special
although troublesome.

On Friday I had a customer who said she was allergic to gold because
her wedding set made her break out. In her case I am convinced the
ring set really is a problem, but not because of the material. She
can wear her engagement ring, but only breaks out when the
wrap-around wedding ring jacket is worn with it. I think that
moisture, germs, soap or some kind of irritant is wicking into the
tight space between the rings. Customer is not at all offended by
this suggestion. Not a pea-under-the-mattress princess at all. But I
have had others, can only wear gold or allergic to do something
generally regard as inert, that seemed to be enjoying the demand for
a troublesome solution to their special problem just a little too
much.


#14

In the European Union there is legislation regarding nickel content
of precious metals used in jewellery namely EU directive 94/27/EC,
Parts EN1811 and EN12472 and subsequent amendments. Google will take
you to the full legislation.

Robin Key
Clavis Jewellery
Aberdeen, Scotland


#15

I knew a lady who ran a jewellers, she found that the higher the
carat the faster she reacted to the gold.

I have always thought that when they say that they are allergic to
anything except gold that they are actually allergic to cheap.

Tim.


#16

According to a study by the North American Contact Dermatitis Group
(NACDG) and posted online by the National Institutes of Health, gold
allergy is apparently more common than we realize. See this web page:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11244133.

Mike DeBurgh, GJG
Alliance, OH


#17
According to a study by the North American Contact Dermatitis
Group (NACDG) and posted online by the National Institutes of
Health, gold allergy is apparently more common than we realize. See
this web page: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11244133. 

That’s an interesting study, but they used gold sodium thiosulfate
which is a gold (III) salt, not metallic gold. I don’t know what
difference that makes, but I would doubt it was none.

Jason


#18

I had a client that was allergic to the palladium. she only can use
yellow gold. But it isn’t common. I make the yellow gold alloy with
copper and silver and the white golg alloy only with palladium. in
general I have no problems.

Regards
AB